Why I Have A Problem With How Industry Analysts Use Twitter
By Peter O'Neill
I thought I would expand a little on my aside comment in last week's blog which was actually about HP. In the introduction to the blog I noted that we analysts seem to be abusing Twitter. I was so provocative that I named my colleagues “adolescent journalists” because they broadcast tweets ad verbatim as the HP speakers went through their presentations. I have noticed this has gotten progressively more (as far as I am concerned, worse and worse) over the last 12 months at various analyst retreats.
Many of these colleagues have responded to my blog and basically asked “What’s your problem with this?” Well, I certainly do not want to be seen as a “grumpy old man” (though I love those books) – ie. Someone who is not up to the times. While I am turning 54 years of age today, I think I do understand Twitter, and use it; and I think I can blog adequately as well. Then again, we analysts at Forrester have been well trained by our Marketing analyst colleagues who are at the forefront of all these developments. Our latest research on “Using Twitter for eBusiness” discusses how companies use Twitter but it doesn’t address the usage I am on about here. So, the issues I have with our just typing in every 140 characters of whatever the person on the stage is saying is as follows:
- That isn’t analysis. It is reporting. We are just promoting what the vendor says
- When the vendor is a little loose with their NDA covering statements, the danger is that we will spread NDA information as well and cause the vendor to retreat from sharing useful information with us analysts
- If I am following such an analyst who tweets me every 2 minutes while he or she sits in a presentation, then I find that annoying. I cannot imagine others feel differently about that.
So, being very selfish, I am extremely worried that this behavior will cause sanctions that affect my work; and that, similarly, many people will label all of us analysts in the same way under the principle of lowest common denominator. AND: the continual typing by analysts sitting next to me during the meetings is equally annoying (for some reason, most analysts really hammer their keyboards!).
So, my esteemed colleagues, please reconsider this behavior the next time we all go to an Analyst Retreat – Las Vegas in 3 weeks is my next event. I focus MY tweets only on these things:
- Where we are going or where we are (can include name dropping)
- Pointing out interesting information (that would be maybe one tweet after a speech, but only if warranted. Heh, not every vendor speech is “interesting”)
- Pointing to other blogs or research or articles
- Asking research questions
- Retweeting of the above
If anybody would like to have any assistance to plan this, Forrester has a good methodology called POST which could help to further this understanding.
Actually, if you ask me, I am not even too sure about the usefulness of Twitter – I consider the jury to be out on this. Most important is that our use of Twitter in this juvenile phase (there I go again!) does not jeopardize how we analysts work with the vendors and vice versa.
Anyway, I’m enjoying our conversations, so keep your comments and emails coming.
Always keeping you informed!